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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah - Introduction

The fact that texts of this work have survived in Greek, in Ethiopic, in at least three different Armenian recensions, and in more than one Slavonic recension, suggests that it was known in antiquity over a wide area and enjoyed considerable popularity. Yet it seems never to have been either quoted or referred to by any of the Fathers. Neither, apparently, does it occur in any of the Greek lists of apocryphal books. 1 There is no reason to suppose that the ‘Baruch pseudepigraphon’, which figures towards the end of the lists in Pseudo-Athanasius and Nicephorus, was intended to refer to the Paraleipomena. No number of stichoi is indicated; and if a reference to a work now extant was intended, it is far more likely to have been to the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch. It does, however, find a place in both the Armenian and the Slavonic lists.

As a title, ‘The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah’ represents an abbreviation of what, to judge from the manuscripts, was the popular Greek title–‘The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah the Prophet’. And so similarly the Armenian and the Slavonic traditions. ‘Paraleipomena’ (i.e. ‘things left out’), used absolutely, was the recognized title for the Books of Chronicles in the Greek Old Testament; and, as a result, the term gained a wider currency and came to be used, especially among those concerned with Biblical apocrypha, to describe a new edition of a work already in existence, or, more often, a supplement to it – for example, in The Testament of Job the reader is referred for further details about a more than ordinarily ‘scurrilous attack’ upon Job to ‘the Paraleipomena of Eliphaz’. 2 Test. Job xli. 6: cp. xl. 14 (see above pp. 642 and 641).

As we have seen, the Greek, Armenian, and Slavonic traditions agree in calling our work ‘The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah’ (or something similar), but the Ethiopic tradition prefers as a title ‘The Rest of the Words of Baruch’; and, since it was in its Ethiopic version that the book first became known to the modern world, it was only natural that it should initially be grouped among the Baruch books. Yet manifestly the book is primarily about Jeremiah and not Baruch: Baruch is an important, but subsidiary, figure; and his importance lies in his function as scribe (as in the canonical Jeremiah). Furthermore, when numbers began to be assigned to the different Baruch books (1 Baruch, 2 Baruch, 3 Baruch, 4 Baruch), there was inevitably confusion about which book was which, and particularly between the last two. If one came across a reference in an author to ‘4 Baruch’ without further explanation, was it to be understood that the reference was to the Paraleipomena of Jeremiah or to the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch? Or, to put the question the other way round, if one wanted to refer to the Paraleipomena should one call it ‘3 Baruch’ (with M. R. James 3 M. R. James, Apocrypha Anecdota, ii (= TS V. i (Cambridge, 1897 ), pp. liii and lxxi). ) or ‘4 Baruch’ (with R. H. Charles 4 R. H. Charles, APOT ii, p. 471. )? In consequence, it has become increasingly common to distinguish the two works by reverting to the use of the titles found in the ancient Greek manuscripts, even though we cannot be sure in either case that these titles are original. (And it may be noted, too, that it has also become much more common than once it was to speak of ‘The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch’ rather than ‘2 Baruch’).

The attention of the modern West was first drawn to the Paraleipomena by C. F. A. Dillmann's article on the Old Testament pseudepigrapha in the first edition of Herzog's Real-Encyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche which appeared in 1860. 5 J. J. Herzog, op. cit., vol. xii, p. 314. Dillmann there described it as ‘a Christian apocryphon’. Six years later he himself published an edition of the Ethiopic text, which was translated into German by F. Prätorius in 1872 , and again by E. König in 1877 ; and so it became generally available.

An edition of the Greek text was published by A. M. Ceriani in 1868 on the basis of a single 15th cent. MS from Bra in Piedmont, supplemented by evidence from some of the Menaea MSS of the Eastern Church for 4 November (when the Fall of Jerusalem was commemorated). These Menaea MSS preserve only portions of the text in an abbreviated and less pure form, so that, despite the fact that there are additions here and there, they represent what would normally be called a ‘short recension’: the title in them is usually either ‘Narrative about the Capture of Jerusalem and the Lamentation of the Prophet Jeremiah and concerning the Trance of Abimelech’ or a variant version of it. 6 A fair specimen of this ‘short recension’ text will be found in A. Vassiliev, Anecdota Graeco-Byzantina, i (Moscow, 1893 ), pp. 308–316. The text is from Vat. Barberini 3 (a. 1497).

J. Rendel Harris's edition of 1889 provided a critically constructed Greek text (of the ‘long recension’), with an apparatus and full Introduction. In constructing his text Harris relied on three Greek MSS (a = Cod. Braidensis A. F. ix. 31, 15th cent. – Ceriani's MS; b = Cod. S. Sepulcri 34, 11th cent.; and c = Cod. S. Sepulcri 6, 10th cent.), the evidence of several of the Menaea (‘short recension’) MSS, and also of the Ethiopic version for which he professed a high regard.

Since Harris's day a number of other manuscripts have come to light belonging to both recensions; but few of them have as yet been adequately examined. Moreover, the relationship between the two recensions (if, indeed, there are only two), and the versional material in its various recensions, is more than ordinarily complex, and little detailed work has so far been done to unravel the complexity. However, in the brief introductory matter to their pilot edition of 1972 R. A. Kraft and A.-E. Purintin gave a convenient list of all known and ‘suspected’ witnesses up to that date, together with a suggested classification. With a commendable honesty they emphasized that ‘all the materials presented here are in every way provisional’. And it is clear that this statement is intended to cover not only their list of available witnesses and their suggested classification of them, but their eclectic Greek text of the ‘long recension’ as well.

The scene of the Paraleipomena is set in Jerusalem both at the beginning and the end of the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah goes with the exiles to Babylon: Baruch stays near Jerusalem, lamenting its desolation; and Abimelech (i.e. the Ebed-melech of Jer. xxxviii. 7–13 ), having been sent to gather figs so that he may not see the impending destruction of the city, falls into a miraculous sleep which lasts for sixty-six years. Since the Lord proclaims ‘I will shelter him there until I bring the people back to the city’ (iii. 10), the sixty-six years of Abimelech's sleep are presumably of significance in determining the date of the Return.

So, at any rate, Harris, who by identifying the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC with its sack by the Romans in AD 70, and adding 66, arrived at the date AD 136. The author, Harris argued, was clearly a Christian, and in his opinion a Jewish Christian, who was writing a Tract for the Times. After the Second Jewish Revolt had been finally crushed in AD 135, Jerusalem, which had been a ruin for more than sixty years, was rebuilt and renamed Aelia Capitolina. It was to be peopled exclusively by Gentiles, and an imperial edict prohibited Jews from entering on pain of death. The Paraleipomena points out that Jews can evade this edict by forsaking Babylon (i.e. Judaism) and entering their rightful city (i.e. the Christian Church). The book is therefore ‘the Church's Eirenicon to the Synagogue, at the time of the Hadrianic edict’. 7 J. R. Harris, The Rest of the Words of Baruch, p. 14.

This view, accepted in its essentials by a number of subsequent scholars, notably by P. Bogaert in the Introduction to his translation of the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, has not gone unchallenged. E. Schürer, for example, drew attention to a number of what would seem to be distinctively Jewish features in the work; and later, G. Delling emphasized the fundamental concern with the fate of Jerusalem and the future of the Jewish people, the references to the need for social purity (vi. 13–14, viii. 2–5) being especially significant in this respect. So, according to Delling, it is ‘a book for edification’, stressing the importance for Jews of the Holy City, the Temple, and the regular life of praise and prayer; and it is to be dated at any time in the first third of the second century AD.

If we take this last view we shall, of course, have to explain the Christian elements in the book as later additions. There is no difficulty in explaining ix. 10–32 in this way (as does Delling): ix. 10–32 gives a circumstantial account of how Jeremiah was restored to life three days after his natural death, how he prophesied the advent of Christ and what followed from it (including the explicit reference to ‘the Son of God who awakens us out of sleep, Jesus Christ’), and how this prophecy provoked the Jews to stone him; and it may well have been added as a suitable tail-piece in order to Christianize an otherwise purely Jewish work.

But is the work, apart from ix. 10–32, purely Jewish? There are, in particular, several apparent reminiscences of the New Testament, such as ‘Jerusalem which is above’ (v. 34; cp. Gal. iv. 26 ), ‘teaching them to keep themselves from the pollutions of the Gentiles’ (vii. 32; cp. Acts xv. 19–20 ), and ‘the true Light which lighteth me’ (ix. 3; cp. John i. 9 ). Are these examples to be explained as genuine reminiscences of Christian writings on the part of a Christian author? Or, are they Christian intrusions into a Jewish document? Or, are they, perhaps, mere verbal coincidences?

If we are prepared to accept the book as a unity and regard it as Christian throughout, the original language is likely to have been Greek. If it was Jewish, apart from the later Christian modifications, then it may have been written originally either in Greek, or in Hebrew or Aramaic. The mention of ‘Zar’ as a god's name at vii. 25 has sometimes been held to point to a Hebrew original, inasmuch as zar is the common Hebrew word for ‘strange(r)’ or ‘foreign(er)’. But this argument is not conclusive. It cannot be supposed that the hypothetical translator into Greek did not know what zar meant and therefore transliterated, since in the very next verse he refers to Jeremiah's grief because his contemporaries ‘were invoking a foreign god’ (vii. 26). Nevertheless, ‘thou god Zar’ is undoubted proof that the Greek text had a Semitic background, even if it was not a translation from Hebrew. And another piece of evidence that tells in the same direction is the use of ὁ Ἱκάνος for ‘the Almighty’ at vi. 3, which accords with the practice of the later translators of the Old Testament (i.e. Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion), who normally render the Hebrew shaddai in this way, though usually without the article.

Finally, a number of contacts with the other apocryphal Jeremiah or Baruch books deserve notice. Thus, the account of Jeremiah's hiding of the Temple vessels at iii. 7–8 is paralleled or echoed, not only in 2 Macc. ii. 4–5 , but also in Syr. Apoc. Bar. vi. 7–10 , in the apocryphal Life of Jeremiah in The Lives of the Prophets, 8 Life of Jeremiah, 9–12 (See C. C. Torrey, The Lives of the Prophets (= JBL Monograph Series, i; Philadelphia, 1946), pp. 22 and 36). and in the Garshuni ‘Jeremiah Apocryphon’ edited by A. Mingana in the first volume of the Woodbrooke Studies in 1927. 9 A. Mingana, Woodbrooke Studies, i (Cambridge, 1927), pp. 125–138 and 148–233 (= Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, xi (Manchester, 1927), pp. 329–342 and 352–437): see especially pp. 171–173 (= Bulletin …, pp. 375–377). The apocryphon had previously been translated into French by E. Amélineau in his Contes et romans de l'Égypte chrétienne, ii (Paris, 1888), pp. 97–151, under the title ‘Histoire de la captivité de Babylone’. Another edition of the text, together with a French translation, was published by L. Leroy and P. Dib under the title ‘Un apocryphe carchouni sur la captivité de Babylone’, in Revue de l'Orient chrétien, XV (Paris, 1910), pp. 255–274, 398–409 and xvi (Paris, 1911), pp. 128–154. To what extent this apocryphon should be regarded as a completely separate work, and not just another (though widely divergent) recension of the Paraleipomena, is debateable. Again, the story of Abimelech and his long sleep reappears in the ‘Jeremiah Apocryphon’, 10 A. Mingana, op. cit., pp. 167 and 185–187 (= Bulletin …, pp. 371 and 389–391). and it is also apparently referred to in the Prologue to Gk. Apoc. Bar. ( v. 2 ). Especially important are the dozen or so parallels with Syr. Apoc. Bar., the more striking of which occur in the same relative order in both books (e.g. Par. Jer. i. 1–2 ǁ Syr. Bar. ii. 1–2; Par. Jer. iv. 3–4 ǁ Syr. Bar. x. 18; Par. Jer. vii. 8–12 ǁ Syr. Bar. lxxvii. 19–26 ). Theoretically it is possible to explain these parallels either by supposing that the author of the Paraleipomena knew and used the Syriac Apocalypse, or that the author of the Syriac Apocalypse knew and used the Paraleipomena, or that both authors knew and used a common source. Among those who have discussed the question, P. Bogaert preferred the first alternative, 11 As had previously, for example, R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch (London, 1896 ), p. xviii. and G. W. E. Nickelsburg the third. 12 Nickelsburg rightly points out in this connection that the author of 2 Maccabees claims to be dependent for his story of Jeremiah and the Temple furnishings on an extant written source (2 Macc. ii. 4 ), so that presumably there were written Jeremiah-Baruch traditions in circulation which antedated the Syriac Apocalypse.

It is perhaps also worth noting that the statement of the people after Jeremiah's prophecy of the advent of Christ at ix. 20 (‘These are the very same words that were spoken by Isaiah, the son of Amoz, when he said, I beheld God and the Son of God’) shows acquaintance with a detail in the tradition of Isaiah's martyrdom which reappears elsewhere in Origen, 13 Orig. In Es. hom. i. 5. in Jerome, 14 Hieron. Comm in Es. i. 10. and in the apocryphal Ascension of Isaiah. 15 Asc. Isa. iii. 8–9 (see above p. 789).

Our translation is, in all essentials, a translation of the text as printed by Harris, which, as explained above, represents the ‘long recension’.

Notes:

1 There is no reason to suppose that the ‘Baruch pseudepigraphon’, which figures towards the end of the lists in Pseudo-Athanasius and Nicephorus, was intended to refer to the Paraleipomena. No number of stichoi is indicated; and if a reference to a work now extant was intended, it is far more likely to have been to the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch.

2 Test. Job xli. 6: cp. xl. 14 (see above pp. 642 and 641).

3 M. R. James, Apocrypha Anecdota, ii (= TS V. i (Cambridge, 1897 ), pp. liii and lxxi).

4 R. H. Charles, APOT ii, p. 471.

5 J. J. Herzog, op. cit., vol. xii, p. 314.

6 A fair specimen of this ‘short recension’ text will be found in A. Vassiliev, Anecdota Graeco-Byzantina, i (Moscow, 1893 ), pp. 308–316. The text is from Vat. Barberini 3 (a. 1497).

7 J. R. Harris, The Rest of the Words of Baruch, p. 14.

8 Life of Jeremiah, 9–12 (See C. C. Torrey, The Lives of the Prophets (= JBL Monograph Series, i; Philadelphia, 1946), pp. 22 and 36).

9 A. Mingana, Woodbrooke Studies, i (Cambridge, 1927), pp. 125–138 and 148–233 (= Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, xi (Manchester, 1927), pp. 329–342 and 352–437): see especially pp. 171–173 (= Bulletin …, pp. 375–377). The apocryphon had previously been translated into French by E. Amélineau in his Contes et romans de l'Égypte chrétienne, ii (Paris, 1888), pp. 97–151, under the title ‘Histoire de la captivité de Babylone’. Another edition of the text, together with a French translation, was published by L. Leroy and P. Dib under the title ‘Un apocryphe carchouni sur la captivité de Babylone’, in Revue de l'Orient chrétien, XV (Paris, 1910), pp. 255–274, 398–409 and xvi (Paris, 1911), pp. 128–154. To what extent this apocryphon should be regarded as a completely separate work, and not just another (though widely divergent) recension of the Paraleipomena, is debateable.

10 A. Mingana, op. cit., pp. 167 and 185–187 (= Bulletin …, pp. 371 and 389–391).

11 As had previously, for example, R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch (London, 1896 ), p. xviii.

12 Nickelsburg rightly points out in this connection that the author of 2 Maccabees claims to be dependent for his story of Jeremiah and the Temple furnishings on an extant written source (2 Macc. ii. 4 ), so that presumably there were written Jeremiah-Baruch traditions in circulation which antedated the Syriac Apocalypse.

13 Orig. In Es. hom. i. 5.

14 Hieron. Comm in Es. i. 10.

15 Asc. Isa. iii. 8–9 (see above p. 789).

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